US defense contractor Lockheed Martin is seemingly unfazed by the spate of cuts in defense spending hitting western countries. The recession has forced countries like the US and the UK to slash planned spending on military equipment like the defense budgets of countries like the US and the UK and with the US capping its F-22 Raptor fleet at 187 the UK cutting back on the number of Eurofighters it was planning to purchase.
French company Dassault’s Rafale is also still only in service with the French armed forces, while the Swedish Gripen has been turned down by Norway in favor of the F-35 Lightening II Joint Strike Fighter. Defense vendors are officially scrambling for orders.
While affirming that the contest to decide the winner of the Medium Multi Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) contest of the Indian Air Force (IAF) is important for the company, Orville Prins, Vice President for Business Development, indicated some of the other contenders in the race to be fighting to survive.
“The MMRCA is important to us in terms of the size of the order and our relationship with India,” he said, adding that the RFP (Request for Proposal) in question provides for an option for to buy an additional 63 aircraft.
Prins however denied that cuts in defense spending had made Lockheed Martin more eager to bag the order, albeit hinting the case may be different for other competitors in the race.
“I have read that others (competitors) are going out of business if they don’t get the Indian or Brazilian order,” he said, referring to the MMRCA as well as the Brazilian FX-2 program, which is a tender for 36 combat aircraft , in which three of the MMRCA contenders, Boeing’s F/A-18 Super Hornet, the French Dassault’s Rafale and the Swedish Saab’s Gripen are in the fray.